It is imperative to strengthen the research and development of advanced recycling technologies for power lithium batteries

by:CTECHi     2021-08-14

'Lithium batteries are the core component of new energy vehicles. Recycling of retired batteries should be an important part of the full life cycle of power batteries. At present, China is doing relatively extensively. If we don’t pay close attention to the research and development of advanced recycling technology for power lithium batteries. , It will seriously restrict the development of the battery industry and even the new energy automobile industry.'

At the consultation salon, Fei Weiyang, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and professor of Tsinghua University, shared his thoughts on strengthening the research and development of advanced recycling technologies for power lithium batteries.

Scarce resources must be cherished.

Fei Weiyang pointed out that lithium products are widely used in nuclear industry, batteries, glass ceramics , And aerospace industries. In recent years, the demand for power batteries for electric vehicles has surpassed traditional fields such as glass ceramics and has become a major growth point. Although my country's lithium resources are abundant, they also have limitations. For example, the total amount of lithium resources in Qinghai Salt Lake is very large, but the concentration of lithium in the brine is very low, and the magnesium-to-lithium ratio is extremely high. Therefore, it is very difficult to extract lithium from the salt lake brine.

After years of hard work, my country has made progress in the membrane method, adsorption method, calcining leaching method, extraction method and other salt lake brine lithium extraction technology. Some companies can use these technologies every year. Produce several thousand tons of lithium products. However, process equipment needs to be improved, product quality needs to be improved, and environmental protection needs to be strengthened urgently. The battery-grade lithium products currently used in China still rely heavily on imported resources.

With the passage of time, the number of decommissioned lithium batteries produced in China will soon reach the order of tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of tons per year. It does not conform to the laws of sustainable development and will further threaten the natural environment.' Fei Weiyang pointed out that lithium, nickel, cobalt and other precious metals are contained in the cathode material of lithium batteries. These scarce resources must be cherished and recycled.

Green development is facing severe challenges

The structure of lithium batteries is relatively complex, including shell, separator, positive electrode, negative electrode, and copper collector. Fluid, graphite, aluminum current collector, etc. At present, the industry's generally optimistic lithium battery treatment process is the wet process, which must first use mechanical methods to break the battery casing, then use the leaching process to dissolve the valuable metal elements, and then use precipitation, extraction and other methods to recover the metal.

Fei Weiyang said: 'The wet process has a high element recovery rate and relatively mild operating conditions, but a large number of chemical reagents must be used, and environmental protection must be done.'

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However, the domestic recycling of lithium batteries is mostly small businesses or even hand-crafted workshops. The technical methods are simple and primitive, the effective recycling rate of resources is very low, and it has caused serious damage to the environment. . 'Our battery recycling is still relatively extensive.' Fei Weiyang said without denying.

For the future development trend of lithium battery recycling technology, Fei Weiyang suggested: First, we must do automated, safe and efficient disassembly to improve efficiency and ensure safety. The second is to achieve efficient recovery of valuable metals. For various types of decommissioned lithium batteries, we have created advanced technology and equipment that can efficiently leaching and recovering valuable elements. More importantly, the secondary pollution of the recycling process should be controlled to avoid threats to the environment and health. The recycling of power lithium batteries is related to the national policy of protecting the blue sky, clear water and pure land, and we must pay close attention to it.

Combine cleverly to promote coordinated development

'To do a good job in recycling decommissioned batteries requires mechanical manufacturing, metallurgy, chemistry, and chemical engineering. Such multidisciplinary research requires the cooperation of technology, equipment, control, management and other aspects. Large battery factories should take the lead to carry out collaborative innovations in production, learning, research, politics, and gold, and develop corresponding advanced dismantling and dismantling for different types of batteries Decomposition, leaching and extraction processes, establish a scientific recovery system.' Fei Weiyang suggested.

Fei Weiyang also mentioned that McKinsey Global Research in the United States has conducted research on the economic potential of the 12 most promising 'disruptive' technologies such as the Internet of Things and cloud computing. Potential analysis, they came to a conclusion that between now and 2025, certain areas of innovation that appear to be attractive will not have a very large economic impact.

'The actual economic benefits brought by technological innovation will not come from those dazzling ideas, but from emerging technologies that are maturing and have existed for decades. The ingenious combination of traditional technologies.” Fei Weiyang pointed out, “Recycling of decommissioned batteries seems to be a low-end traditional technology, but industry development and environmental protection urgently require us to adopt advanced and mature mechanical manufacturing, hydrometallurgy and chemical engineering. Technology to improve the existing battery recycling process and equipment.'

'The ingenious combination of advanced technology and basic industry will promote the coordinated development of the battery recycling industry and new energy vehicles. Fei Weiyang called for the automatic and large-scale recycling of decommissioned batteries to be put on the agenda, whether for the effective use of resources or to meet environmental protection requirements.

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